The British Comparative Literature Association is proud to sponsor the Cultural Literacy Everywhere Virtual Symposium, “Dwelling”, hosted by University College Dublin. The Symposium will take place via Zoom, 11 – 13 May 2022.
Professor Alison Blunt, Queen Mary, University of London
Home and Beyond: dwelling and belonging in pandemic times
Professor Colin Ellard, University of Waterloo, Canada
Dwelling in a Digital Age: Lessons from the Pandemic
Dr Rachel Hurdley, Cardiff University
Making home: doors, mantels, windows and other places
Mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors
Led by Valerie Williams-Sanchez
Rehearsal for Disasters: scores for manoeuvring
led by Serene Hui
This two-day online Symposium is designed to generate active discussion, focusing on thinking and talking rather than formal presentations.
As a physical space of habitation, dwellings may take many forms, such as houses, castles, apartments, convents, caravans, huts, or barges. Moreover, dwelling – both noun and verb – implies a certain ‘staying put’ or even permanence. Dwelling might then be a state of rootedness and safety, the opposite of temporary spaces such as refugee camps, prisons, and hospitals.
Space is a dimension that permits the formation of places, which for geographer Doreen Massey (1994) has multiple non-static identities. A place within a space can harmonize or clash with its surroundings. For Bachelard (1961), places and spaces are tied to identity-formation via an architectural engagement with dwellings. As a space of intimacy, a dwelling can constitute a ‘cosmos’ of the self, and it could be explored through topographical surveys or mappings of the paraphernalia, ambiances, memories, and imaginaries of living, as in the fiction and non-fiction of Georges Perec.
Exploring dwelling as a relationship with space, Bourdieu’s work on the ‘Berber house’ (1970) questions the modernist idea of space as nothingness or void. Heidegger’s ‘Building, Dwelling, Thinking’ (1954), an essential text for modern architecture, links human inscapes with the (im)material realities of building and dwelling. For the dweller, the relation to space and place entails simultaneously a withdrawal into a demarcated space for shelter and the creation of a sense of belonging.
Humanity’s sense of place and space has never been more prominent than it is today. The COVID-19 pandemic has confined many people to cramped urban dwellings or inhospitable spaces (e.g., quarantine hotels), turned homes into offices, and changed the topography of everyday life. This crisis, along with economic inequalities, climate change, and mass migration events, confirms the need for a radical reassessment of sustainable human dwelling on earth. This Symposium will engage in creative and critical discussion on dwelling in both the verbal and the nominal sense and on how we live or wish to live in the world.